CBN objects to request that it provides details of the cost of Buhari's treatment while in London

CENTRAL Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor Godwin Emefiele has opposed a lawsuit requesting that his bank provides information on the money spent on President Muhammadu Buhari’s medical treatment while in London.


Last year, President Buhari spent 103 days in the United Kingdom recuperating from an undisclosed illness. While the president stayed at Abuja House, the official residence of the Nigerian high commissioner to the UK, his official jet was parked at Stansted Airport, both at the cost of the nation.


Challenging what went on, the incorporated trustees of Advocacy for Societal Rights Advancement and Development Initiative (Asradi) led by its executive director, Adeolu Oyinlola, has filed a suit the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking the CBN to disclose how much it all cost.


In the suit, Asradi said that the CBN and its governor refused to honour its Freedom of Information request contained in its letter of October 19, 2017. However, in its counter affidavit filed on February 13, the CBN and its governor urged the court to reject the applicant’s prayers and dismiss the suit.


In addition, the CBN equally urged the court to vacate an earlier ex-parte order granting leave to the applicant to apply for a prerogative order of mandamus, compelling it to provide the information requested. The CBN admitted receiving the October 19, 2017 letter from Asradi but forwarded it to the president’s chief of staff, who it said it believed was the proper person to provide the information sought by the applicant.


A CBN spokesman said: “Upon the receipt of the applicant’s application for information, the bank transferred the same application to the office of the chief of staff to the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The particular information sought by the applicant related to the overseas medical expenses incurred on the president of Nigeria, General Muhammadu Buhari and the  aircraft parking fees at the Stansted Airport in the UK.”


In a supporting the affidavit, Mr Oyinlola contended that it was within the responsibilities of the CBN and its governor to provide the requested information saying they are responsible for all foreign currency transactions of the Nigerian government or transactions involving the Federal Government of Nigeria and foreign institutions concerning transfer of money outside the shores of Nigeria. He further stated that in the interest of the Nigerian public, the court should grant his group’s prayers to compel the respondents to declare the requested information.


He added that Asradi was inundated on a daily basis with demands from the public to investigate the amount of taxpayers’ money spent on treating the president in London and keeping a presidential aircraft there for 103 days. Justice John Tsoho has adjourned the case until April 17 for the hearing of the main suit along with any objection filed by any of the respondents.